Month: April 2018

Peace

What do you associate with the word peace? For some of us we are going to link it with the idea of quiet – we might refer to something as ‘peaceful’ if there wasn’t much noise. We may associate it with war, or should I say no war, after all a definition of peace is lack of conflict. But what do we mean when we say that peace was something we received with the resurrection?

Our quote this week comes from Paul Chappell who has ‘because of the empty tomb, we have peace. Because of His resurrection, we can have peace during even the most troubling of times.’ And our bible verse is from a week after Jesus first appeared to his disciples following the resurrection, they are gathered together behind closed doors and he appears saying ‘peace be with you’ is this peace talking about a lack of noise or a lack of conflict? No. It’s talking about the peace of Fo – which, to be fair the Bible does say passes all understanding but let’s give it a go.

The peace of God is a state of tranquility which transcends circumstances. Even if we are feeling troubled, or anxious, then God’s peace can bring calm upon us. Why? Paul Chappell continues in his quote ‘because we know He is in control of all that happens. We live in a world where bad things happen and will happen, and although we can ask for them to be taken away if we pray for God’s peace then we will be almost in a sense of calm throughout it all.

If we look at the examples of Jesus he knew he was going to be arrested and tried and crucified. Before all of this happened he did go to pray to the Father to take the cup away. As he wen through the arrest, trial and crucifixion at no are we told of him getting upset or angry, but it is almost as if he was a visible sign of peace.

When Jesus said to the disciples peace be with you, he will have known the mix of emotions that would have been going through them at that time, anxiety, upset, scared, overwhelmed. He would know that they would need to know God’s peace.

The peace of God is readily accessible to us now, because of the crucifixion and resurrection, but it is something that grows within us the more we draw close to God. Maybe if each of us were to experience the peace of God it would and there would no longer be conflict around the world? So that is your challenge this week:

Challenge: what areas in your life do you think would benefit from a sense of peace? How can you bring peace in to them? Are there situations in the community or wider world that would also benefit from God’s peace?

Prayer: father God we thank you that you are peace and that allow us to experience peace. Help us to experience peace and to bring peace into the world. Amen

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Hope

When was the last time you used the word hope? We will often use the word hope when talking about an event that is happening and how we hope it goes, what we hope happens in a day, how we hope friends/parents/teachers will behave, what we hope a sports result will be, what we hope the weather will be. As I write this I imagine there are thousands of people hoping that they will finish the London Marathon today.

The word hope refers to expectation, desire or trust. Most of the ways in which I have referred to the use of the word hope above are to do we expectation or desire. Things we’d like to see, or things we’d expect to see. However, when we talk, about hope as a result of the resurrection, we talk about it as something that we trust in. Our thought for the week comes from Ravi Zacharias who says

“Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity”

In 1 Peter1:3-6 Peter talks about the praise given to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in his mercy gave us new life in the living hope of the resurrection. Peter and Ravi aren’t talking about thing that it would be great if they did happen, something nice to wish for. Instead they are talking about a knowledge that because of the cross and resurrection we can hope/trust that God has given us new life and is protecting us. Peter acknowledges that this does not mean life is going to be all sweetness, light, and wonderful. In fact he refers to the fact that ‘you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials’ but you can have a hope that you are being protected and that you willing have a place in heaven in the future.

Suffering is one of the main reasons that people give for not believing in God. Many people have heard about what happened to me the last but one week before Easter. I had an epileptic seizure, this wasn’t any seizure but a face first one on a step leading in to the school. I was somewhat confused, and my face looked a complete mess. It has taken weeks to clear up, and there are still scars. For many that would be enough to turn away and take away hope, but for me… I have absolutely no idea why it happened, especially why it had to happen like that, but I also knew that it was part of the journey that I’m on. I’ve actually had more ‘dramatic’ and painful seizures in the past so this was relatively low-key. But most importantly at the centre of my life, is the core of the Gospel, the cross and resurrection, what Ravi Zacharias says is the only hope for humanity. It’s not a desire for my face to look better, for the drugs to start working, or for the electrics in my brain to work properly. It is a hope that I have a new life in Christ where I won’t have to worry about those things.

Prayer: thank you father for giving us the cross and resurrection that we may have a hope in a new life and inheritance. Help us to remember that hope when we get caught up in our trials and tribulations. Amen

Challenge: think about how you use the word hope on a day to day basis. Read the quote and the passage from 1 Peter 1:3-6 – how do you think the word hope is used differently?

New Life

We have just come to the end of our Easter holiday. Easter is arguably the most important celebration in the Christian calendar and this term we are going to be looking at why it is so important and what the cross and, more importantly, the resurrection mean for us, today in the 21st century.

The first thought for the term, and the first thing that the cross means for us is New Life. It seems quite bizarre that someone’s death can actually mean new life for us. What does it mean by new life? Does it mean that we forget everything that we have done? No. But it does mean that we can start afresh.

In the Old Testament there is a lot of talk about animal sacrifices that need to be made, as a gift to God, but as Watchman Nee says ‘Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with resurrection’. That life of sacrifice is no longer necessary because Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross in our place, so that we can have a new life not worrying about our past, just starting afresh.

That’s not to say that we’re not going to make mistakes anymore, after all we’re human and that is what we do, but we can move on from those mistakes. There’s no point being held back by them, yes we can move on and learn from them, but the whole point of the cross is that we can move on. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

It is very easy for us to focus on all the things that we want to move on from, possibly so we don’t make the same mistakes again, but instead we should focus on the resurrection life we have, the new life we have in Jesus.

Prayer: thank you father that you sent your son that we may have new life because of the sacrifice made on the cross for us. Help us to live that life to the full.

Challenge: think about things from the old history that are still holding you back from your new life. Make a note of those things and take them to something that represents the cross for you.